Monday, September 14, 2009


I love trying new dye techniques and it seems like I was presented with many this summer. I can't say that I took any classes to add new ideas to my repertoire, but I did happen to be in the right place at the right time WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE. I know talented, creative people when I see them, and if I sense any connection with fiber, I glom right on and start asking questions or discussing a focal point of interest.
A few years back, Christine showed me the most beautiful turtle that she had carved onto a piece of "easy cut", a material similar to a linoleum block but much easier to use. Graciously she allowed me to use it to make an image on fabric that I later put into a piece I titled "despacio" or "slow down". I knew I would try the easy-cut someday. Last spring, I purchased eight 4x6 inch blocks and began cutting simple geometric shapes to make fabric for one of my journal quilt pieces. The day came when Cathy came up from her boat and the time felt right for both of us to have some printing fun. The results were fantastic and I readily put them together for my August journal assignment.

The next new technique came out of my own swirling thoughts. It's such a dilema when ones hair starts to go gray. Intervene or let it go? My mood swings to and fro on this one, and recently I started wondering about a major intervention after the last few years of the au natural look. For some reason, I began thinking about the foil wraps I've seen during color treatments at the salon, and from there moved right on in to my dye studio to try it out. Of course, my hair had nothing to do with this process....but just had to get the cotton and the foil sheets out to see what would happen. I have some 10" filters, taken from the guts of old water filters that I now typically wrap fabric on, secure tightly with rubber bands, place in a tall cylinder, and then start pouring dye down through the middle of the filter. I love the wild results. But now I was about to use foil instead of the rubber bands, and I also tightened the foil around the bottom of the filter to hopefully hold the liquid in the cylinder.
I have to admit that I used REALLY OLD dye for this. And not just really old, but dye that had sat out in my studio in the recent heat wave temps in the 90's. I ALWAYS am so disappointed when I do this, but there's that frugal side of me that hates to waste anything. Maybe someday I'll learn. BUT, I do think the process has merit and I will be trying it again.
Another new technique, one that I need to explore much more, is using shaving cream with my dye. Christine explained how to do it over the phone, and that was enough to set me off and running. I mixed the shaving foam with three different colors and squirted them in a spiral design on a piece of cotton. The result was less than pleasing. A little later that afternoon, local teens Meghan and Matt brought over some dyeables, and among their cotton was a khaki green canvas hat that Meg's dad wanted us to try out. This is what we did with the hat.Although I don't have a picture of the finished result, notice how the dye kept its shape on the canvas and remained on the surface without melting into the fabric and blending with the other colors. I think there's lots of potential for more exploration here.
Okay, on to other techniques. At last month's guild meeting, Laurie Ann brought a collection of hand dyes she had fun with this summer. She sewed a square of cotton into a sleeve that would tightly fit over a large-diameter pvc pipe. Then she bunched it all up togther on the pipe, and secured it at the top and bottom. This tightly pleated sleeve of cotton was now taking up about 2" of space on the pipe, and into the dye bath it went. (I WISH I had taken photos of her amazing work.) So back at home, I set to trying it myself, but using a wine bottle instead of the pipe. ( I tend to have many more wine bottles around my house for some unknown reason, and I'm always looking for multiple uses.) The results were fabulous and I WILL be trying more of this. I'll have to figure out how to create larger pieces. Thank you Laurie Ann for your great inspiration.

Then that creative wizard, Cathy, applied ink to the salmon she caught and printed it onto an old sheet. That's will be on my list for next year!

Last but not least, Tom brought up an old canner from under our house (storage area) that we inherited from the past owners. I was in need of a kettle for heating water, and what should I find at the bottom of the canner, but those round spacers to keep the jars off the bottom. Two of them....just perfect for sandwiching fabric between and pouring dye over. What would be the result?

Did I mention what I found at the local free store on Cortes yesterday? I just couldn't pass these up!

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